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GROUNDWORK SET FOR ADDITIONAL CHALLENGES TO DRAEGER ALCOTEST 9510 BREATH TEST MACHINES IN MASSACHUSETTS

The recent decision by Massachusetts district court judge Robert Brennan regarding Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath test machines in Massachusetts laid the groundwork for more wide-ranging challenges to the devices. Brennan’s decision is a win for defendants whose breath test results are from 9510 devices that were last calibrated before the state police Office of Alcohol Testing (“OAT”) established written protocols regarding annual calibration on September 14, 2014. In his decision, Judge Brennan noted that “in the absence of written protocols, ... Read More »

DECISION ON SCIENTIFIC RELIABILITY OF DRAGER 9510 IN MASSACHUSETTS

After hearing testimony over ten days, Judge Brennan of the Massachusetts district court department issued his decision regarding the defense bar’s challenge to the scientific reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 9510 breathalyzer, first deployed in Massachusetts in June 2012. The defense bar’s motion to exclude breath test results from the 9510 machines as evidence against defendants was allowed in part and denied in part. The court determined that the scope of its inquiry should include: 1) whether the source code ... Read More »

CLOSING ARGUMENTS AT MASSACHUSETTS HEARING CHALLENGING RELIABILITY OF DRAEGER ALCOTEST 9510 BREATH TEST MACHINES

The hearing regarding the scientific reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath test machines concluded with closing arguments on Friday, February 3. The defense bar argued that because the relevant statute states that simply driving with a .08 blood alcohol concentration, as measured by the 9510 machine, is enough for a conviction, regardless of the tolerance an individual driver may have or any effect on their driving, the reliability of the machines should be subject to the highest scrutiny. The ... Read More »

MORE PROBLEMS WITH DRAEGER ALCOTEST 9510 BREATH TEST MACHINES IN MASSACHUSETTS

On Friday, February 3, the final day of hearings regarding the scientific reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath test machines, a representative from Draeger testified that a previously unknown error appears to have been caused because the machines were programmed to use an incorrect value during performance checks and calibration. The 9510 machines use two sensors to measure blood alcohol: An infrared sensor, as required by statute, and an electro-chemical fuel cell. During calibration, the measurements of the two ... Read More »

MASSACHUSETTS HIGH COURT SCHEDULES HEARING REGARDING EVIDENCE OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has scheduled a hearing for January 6, 2017 to hear argument regarding the relevance and admissibility of certain evidence regarding driving under the influence of marijuana. After the case was remanded to the district court for consideration of several questions raised by the high court, it has returned to the SJC after the issues seem to have been distilled to four key questions. Primarily, the court will hear arguments regarding whether there is a scientifically ... Read More »

MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE POSTPONES SOME ASPECTS OF MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

On November 8, voters in Massachusetts approved Question 4 legalizing recreational marijuana use and regulating it similarly to alcoholic beverages. Implementation of the new scheme is happening in two phases. Beginning December 15, 2016, it became legal for an adult (defined as 21 or older) to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in one’s primary residence or up to 1 ounce outside the home (but not to consume it in public). An adult may also grow up to 6 ... Read More »

UPDATE ON DRAEGER LITIGATION

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently modified the scheduling order set by the District Court Department regarding the defense bar’s challenge to the scientific reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath test machines. Justice Botsford, citing the complex nature of the matter, extended the litigation into next year. The modified schedule allows the defense bar more time to examine the machines and for all parties to produce and review expert opinions. Pursuant to the modified schedule, the defense bar must ... Read More »

RAPID DEPLOYMENT OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

It was a busy week in the nascent era of autonomous vehicles. 9/14: Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston was selected by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum as a focus city to participate in a 1-year study of autonomous vehicles in an urban environment. The City is now trying to coordinate with the state Department of Transportation and with the legislature to ensure state regulations keep up with the new technologies and to determine if at this ... Read More »

BODY CAMERAS IN BOSTON

The Boston Police Department has been considering the use of body cameras. Police Commissioner William Evans and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, the department’s largest union, had proposed that a voluntary pilot program begin September 2. That pilot program was to include 100 volunteers to wear the cameras for six months to determine the effectiveness of the cameras and the impact on privacy concerns for both officers and civilians. That pilot program, however, immediately faced a troubled start as not ... Read More »

DRAEGER ALCOTEST LITIGATION IN MASSACHUSETTS

The Massachusetts defense bar is challenging the scientific reliability of the Draeger Alcotest 9510. The 9510 is currently the only breath test machine used in Massachusetts to determine the alleged blood alcohol content of driver’s arrested for operating under the influence (“OUI”). This litigation had been proceeding simultaneously in the two separate district court departments of Massachusetts: Boston Municipal Court (consisting of 8 district courts in Boston) and the District Court Department (61 district courts outside of Boston). One judge ... Read More »